The Missing Nail A vision by Peter Greenaway for Cassina on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

Cultural DNA


Cassina has always had a special interest in the cultural diffusion of the works of the architects and designers of its collections, promoting cultural initiatives and creating exceptional collaborations.

Today the company confirms this vocation with a new project by the British director and screenwriter Peter Greenaway. ‘The Missing Nail. A vision by Peter Greenaway for Cassina on Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper’ is a tribute to one of the greatest geniuses of all time, 500 years after his death.


Brilliant Leonardo meets the talent of Peter Greenaway


‘The Missing Nail’ is an unprecedented multimedia work on da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ created and directed by Peter Greenaway for Cassina. The director has always been fascinated by this particularly rich in content fresco that has already been subject of various past works. His study develops with this multidisciplinary project that tells a unique story in collaboration with the Italian arch quintet Architorti who have composed a soundtrack especially for the occasion.

The short film and performance evolve from the missing nail, an imperceptible hole near Christ’s head in the centre of the fresco, where, during its production, a nail had been hung in order to attach a plumb line for Leonardo to level the work.

There is an underlying structured basis of mathematical calculations in the fresco that Greenaway also tries to integrate in the structure of his productions in an almost obsessive way.

Through light and perspective, the British director creates a pressing rhythm with a text narrated in first person. He highlights details depicted in da Vinci’s masterpiece, such as plates and dishes arranged just like the planets of the solar system, and finds links with contemporary architecture, including the disturbing citation of the Twin Towers. Construction and destruction, an infinite cycle that runs through human history starting from the One who wanted to redeem it in the Gospel narrative.

And so ‘The Last Supper’, an icon of classical Italian culture, is brought to life in a film. Peter Greenaway's voice is among the protagonists of this production and his passionate and, at the same time detached, lyrical and sometimes ironic participation further enhances the work.


The missing nail, from the screen to the carpentry workshop


It is difficult not to make a natural connection between the missing nail and the excellence of the historical Cassina carpentry workshop, where nails have never been used. Here the company bases its excellence on refined joinery to combine craftsmanship and the most sophisticated innovative technology.


The Missing Nail. A vision by Peter Greenaway for Cassina on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper


Music by Architorti, text by Peter Greenaway.

Produced by Gianluigi Ricuperati / Institute for Production or Wonder. Video, mixed media, musical performance, lecture, various lengths.

Performance communication and promotion, Mara Moscano and Silvia Viglietti Holland-Italy, 2019.


The short film is being projected at Cassina Milano from the 9th to the 31st of July 2019, from 10am to 7pm. via Durini 16, Milan.


Peter Greenaway

The son of an amateur ornithologist, Peter John Greenaway was born in Newport, Wales, on April 5, 1942. When he was twelve he decided to become a painter and enrolled at the Walthamstow College of Art. Four years later, he saw Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal (1956) for the first time and from that moment all his attention was focused on cinema.

In 1962 Greenaway made his first short film: Death of Sentiment. After having tried in vain to enter the Royal College of Art's film school, he returned to painting and in 1964 he exhibited his works for the first time in the exhibition entitled Ejzentejn at Winter Palace, held at Lord's Gallery.

At the same time, the Welsh artist began to write his first novels. With the equipment of the Central Office of Information, where he worked for ten years, he made short films such as Train (1966), the mechanical ballet of the last steam train that entered the station of Waterloo, Tree (1966) and Windows (1975). In 1978, the British Film Institute produced A Journey Through H ("The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist"), which won the Hugo Award at the Chicago Film Festival. Two years later, Greenaway shot his first feature film, The Falls (1980), which won the British Film Institute award and the Age d'or in Brussels.

But it is The Mysteries of the Garden of Compton House (1982) that reveals the director to an international audience. After the success of the film starring Anthony Higgins, he made countless successful films, from the Zoo of Venus (1985) to The Twenty-First Architect (1987), passing through The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Lover (1989), The Last Storm (1991), The Tales of the Pillow (1996), to his most recent works such as Goltzius and the Pelican Company (2012), Eisenstein in Mexico (2015), Shchukin, Matisse, Dance and Music (2016).

In parallel with film production, his video-installation activity is equally intense.



Architorti is a string quintet of classical formation (two violins, viola, cello, double bass). Marco Robino founded the quintet in 1994 and immediately combined a spirit of courageous exploration with the commitment and desire to expand the scope and scope of the musicians, praise the many collaborations with artists such as: Tony Esposito, Subsonica,

Meg, Arturo Stalteri, Fabrizio Bosso, Madaski, Africa Unite, Teho Teardo, Blixa Bargeld, Mimmo Calopresti. Their work is characterized by a constant search for new musical, timbral, stylistic and technological solutions that, thanks to the work of composition and artistic production of Marco Robino and Marco Gentile, led them to create a unique product. A musical world in constant transformation and an innate capacity for renewal have changed the skin of the ensemble that, since 2004, has approached the world of cinema and multimedia installations. Immediately appreciated for its quality of execution and daring ability to experiment, the Architorti have collaborated with artists of international renown. Since 2004 they have been working with Peter Greenaway on a permanent basis and have composed original music for the director: The Tulse Luper Suitcases, The European Showerbath, Peopling the palaces, Museo del design di Milano, Leonardo's Last Supper, J'accuse, 3x3D, The Towers/Lucca Hubris, The Dance of Death/Ein Basler Totentanz, Goltzius and the Pelican Company, Eisenstein's Mexican Ghosts, Luther and his Legacy.



Founded in Meda by Cesare and Umberto Cassina in 1927, Cassina launched industrial design in Italy during the 50’s by taking a completely new approach which saw a shift from handcraftsmanship to serial production. Cassina was pioneering in the way that it showed a striking inclination for research and innovation, combining technological skill with traditional craftsmanship. For the first time important architects and designers were involved and encouraged to envision new designs to be transformed into projects, a characteristic that still distinguishes the company.

Today ‘The Cassina Perspective’ unites the company’s values to express the best contemporary design - avant-gardism, authenticity, excellence and the combination of technological capacity with skilled handcraftsmanship – and offers a broad panorama of configurations for the home where innovative products and Modern icons come together to create complete and, above all, welcoming environments, dialoguing according to a unique design code based on excellence.


There are many reasons why Cassina has commissioned Peter Greenaway to design his ‘vision’ on Leonardo da Vinci, The Missing Nail.

Of course, 2019 is Leonardo's 500th anniversary. Of course, the company has always supported creativity in all of its different expressions. It is also true that cinema is the art of interiors, capable of telling the soul of the places where our lives take place. Real and lived-in interiors, which are at the centre of 'The Cassina Perspective', the perspective of a company that offers a complete panorama for contemporary living.

All of these reasons taken individually are real and important. But together they become an unmissable opportunity. On one hand you have the absolute treasure of the most sublime sacred representation of the Western canon: but closer to us, you also get the ‘bottega’ of modern and contemporary skills and forms that a brand like Cassina has embodied for almost a century.

It is precisely in this sense that Peter Greenaway's reflection - a director who has always been close to the concerns of architects and visual artists - seems so timely, precisely because it focuses on the missing nail, the tiny supporting element that served the genius of Vinci to set the fresco right.

It’s a curious paradox that Cassina boasts, on the contrary, a practical philosophy in its approach to carpentry that is totally independent from the use of nails: in fact, Cassina's wooden furniture is not produced with any nails or screws. Cassina's values - intelligence, experimentation, the wisdom of domestic living, research - are thus combined in a perfectly coherent homage to the European, Italian and Milanese genius of Leonardo da Vinci. It is a heartfelt contribution to the celebrations of the 500th anniversary that aims to reproduce on a contemporary scale the atmosphere of an invention workshop where disciplines merge, in a dialogue that puts the human being at the centre of everything.

That's why Peter Greenaway's The Missing Nail is not just a short film, it's not just a musical performance lesson, it's not just a chapter in the extraordinary history that this master of world cinema has entertained with the civilization of images. The Missing Nail is an homage paid by a global brand to a fundamental notion - that of homo universalis, which questions the mysteries of its condition by giving birth to gestures of beauty.

Gianluigi Ricuperati